Blaydon’s remarkable turn-around in form took another step forward with this thoroughly deserved win over the league leaders that was more comprehensive than the final score-line might suggest. For long spells they had all the possession and territory whilst the visitors only came alive in the closing minutes with a first excursion into the 22 that produced a try and then a penalty to earn them a losing bonus point.
Blaydon Director of rugby Micky Ward declared himself to be ‘well chuffed’, saying “We didn’t pay too much attention to them, all we talked about beforehand was just to get stuck into them and see what they have got. They came at us hard in the first half but we weathered the storm and you have to give the lads their due. People say we are a forward orientated side but we took some great opportunities today”
Precious little ball handling was in evidence in the opening quarter with Andrew Baggett landing a penalty for Blaydon and Paul Roberts responding twice for the Knights to give them the lead. As the half progressed however it was Blaydon on the front foot more often than not and 5 minutes before the interval they secured an excellent opening try.
Flanker Harry Bate made the initial sortie into the 22, Tom Banks was hauled down just short and then from the resulting scrum Ben Morris threw out a long looping pass to the wing where the unmarked Sean Brown crossed with ease.
Doncaster were no more effective with the ball in hand after the break, relying on another Roberts penalty, and as Blaydon pressed and pressed it took a blatant offside by Brad Field to prevent a home score. The scrum-half was yellow carded for the offence and in his absence Blaydon grabbed a second try when good line-out ball was whipped along the line and Tom Grimes took a pass from Morris to jink his way over, Baggett converting.
At this stage there was still no sight of the normally free scoring Doncaster backs and it was Blaydon who continued to rule the roost and no surprise when the visitors line was crossed for a third time. Jonny Burn, a replacement scrum-half stormed into the 22, the forwards piled in and when Chris Wearmouth was held up Burn popped up again to burrow his way over.
Baggett’s conversion made it a substantial 22-9 lead and finally Doncaster were roused into positive action.
From broken play Bravo made a solo break that caught Blaydon napping and when good second phase was secured they shipped it out to winger Glen Bryce who with an impressive turn of foot shot clear to score in the corner. With time running out the previously reliable Roberts had the opportunity to earn his side a bonus point with the conversion but saw his kick drift narrowly wide.
Fortunately for Doncaster however the fly-half was given a second chance and in the dying seconds he made no mistake with a simple penalty.
Star man: Ben Morris (Blaydon)
Referee: Llyr Apgeriant-Roberts
HT: 8-6 FT: 22-17
Tries Brown 35, Grimes 62, Burn 69
Conversions: Baggett 62, 69
Penalty: Baggett 14.
Try: Bryce 74
Penalties Roberts 18, 22, 50, 79
Blaydon: Bailey 6, Jeffery 6, Grimes 6, Banks 6, Brown 6, Baggett 5, Davies 5 (Burn 6 63), Kalbraier 6 (Davison 5 52), Entressengle 5 (Hall 5 56), Ward 5 (Hallam 5 37), Wearmouth 6, Jones 5, Morris 8, Bate 7 (Laughlin 5 40), Smithson 8
Doncaster: Lennard 5, Jarvis 5, Slater 5 (Davies 5 65), Armitage 6, Bryce 5, Roberts 5, Field 5 (Bravo 5 71), Cosgrove 5 (Phillips 5 30), Santamaria 5, Morris 5, Kenworthy 5, Walker-Fitton 5 (Spencer 5 66), Challinor 7, Jones 7, Kettle 6
Reporter: John Brennan